SINGAPORE - When he enlisted for Basic Military Training (BMT) as a Commando in 1996, Master Warrant Officer Maheswaran Franklin Miranda struggled to pass a 35m swimming test.
"I needed three attempts to pass. At that point it almost felt like 3,500 metres instead of 35 metres," said the army's 3rd Division sergeant major, who was promoted to Senior Warrant Officer by the Singapore Armed Forces on Friday (June 26).
Four years later, he found himself swimming 3.2km weekly in the Pacific Ocean for about six months as part of the US Navy Seal course in San Diego.
"When you have the will to do something, you will put your heart and soul into it, and anything is possible," said MWO Maheswaran, 45.
"After I decided to sign on, I got my BMT mates to teach me how to swim, and I was determined to learn."
Besides the land and sea, his 24-year-long career thus far has also seen him spend extended time in the air .
He even jumped as part of the Red Lions, the army's parachute team, at the National Day Parade in 2011 and 2012.
As an extreme sports junkie, the physical elements of a soldier's career first appealed to MWO Maheswaran, but he now embraces his role as a seasoned leader, and looks forward to inspiring and grooming the army's next generation of soldiers.
"You go through phases of life. Given all my years in the army, I think now I'm in a good position to nurture new leaders," said the father of a daughter aged 10, and an eight-year-old son.
"The mental model (that people have) of sergeant majors is that you are fierce and feared.
"Of course, we need to be firm to enforce regimentation and discipline, but you also want the soldiers to have the confidence and trust when they ask you for advice."